Front page http://laborhealth.or.kr/41059
Table of Contents
1. Fall to sea! Why didn’t they call 119 ? click
2. “Wish I could remove the word of ‘suicide’ covered with my husband” click
3. 13 deaths within a year at the ‘death factory’… what happened? click
4. [Infographic] People in the ‘hell ship’, how were they killed? click
5. ‘Shipyard ghost story’, the same death in 2014 as 1994 again? click
6. Head opened, leg broken.. No Worker’s Compensation! click
7. Blowing the whistle “How did I blackmail them?” click
8. ‘Smashing’ subcontracting companies, ‘choking’ workers click
9. “Occupational injury?” You didn’t call 119, did you? click
10. “Nobody stops running on a single log bridge” click
11. “What is should be like… what it really is like” click
12. ‘Old’ blacklist, still valid? click
13. “Jeong Mong-joon is coming to HHI to collect bills” click
14. Pyramid contract ‘Mul-yang team’, causes death click
15. Norwegian Press reported ‘Hyundai Heavy Industry Worker’s fatality’…
“Shocking information” click
“Nobody stops running on a single log bridge”
“Nobody stops running on a single log bridge”
“It’s the same as asking someone to run across a single log bridge but don’t fall down”
(Mr. Chang-min Ha, the director of HHI(Hyundai heavy Industry) subcontracting branch office)
It is contradicting each other asking to finish 10 day-long work within 5 days and don’t get hurt on the job at the same time but this irony has been a daily routine at shipyards for a long time.
This is not due to ‘vicious capitalist’ individuals themselves but the nature of capitalism, namely the structure. The core nature of capitalism is ‘profit maximization’. The purpose is to produce the most profit with as little effort and capital. Then, the profit is divided into shareholders.
Let’s talk about Hyundai Heavy Industry (refer to as HHI below). The labor exploitation extends to re-exploitation in the pyramid labor structure from one subcontracting company to another. The most typical way is ‘smashing contract price (unit per ton)’. The profit made by squeezing subtracting companies is paid to Mr. Mong-joon Jeong, the major shareholder.
The nature of capitalism chokes workers with ‘invisible hands’. Their wages are delayed and they lose their lives on the job. Under this pretense of ‘maximizing profit’, numerous workers “vanish” in silence. 13 workers were killed in 2014 in HHI. They were sacrificed by man-made disasters due to a reduction of impractical completion date and lack of safety measures.
The government is aware that it is a serious issue. The labor bureau of a local branch in Busan conducted a special industrial health and safety supervision for HHI as 3 workers were killed within a month in March 2014.
Supervision report said that HHI’s safety actions were poor
According to ‘
Industrial health and safety special supervision report’ secured, HHI’s safety actions were poor in various aspects and they were detected as below;
ㅿHigh risk for traditional occupational injury such as fall, electric shock, crash, falling objects following not enough lights at worksite, electrical power turned off, crane hook release machine not installed, safety fence not installed
ㅿHHI’s HSE personnel did not take responsibility to supervise
ㅿSpecial medical exam items missing for 275 HHI employees and 511 subcontractors of 26 subcontracting companies
ㅿUsed unapproved high place work platforms and pressure vessels
The labor bureau of a local branch in Busan indicated 562 violations against Occupational Health and Safety Acts and 519 (92.4%) were contributed by HHI and 40 (7.1%) by subcontracting companies.
In specific, violation for safety measures were 392 (69.6%) and control of harmful factors 19 (3.4%), health measures 20(3.6%), working environment measures and health examination 37 (6.6%) respectively.
For actions taken in regards to the violations, there were 376 judicial processes, 41 stop-works, 18 stop-uses, 92 fines (1,060,820,000 won), 375 correction orders, and 80 official suggestions.
The labor bureau, “Lack of safety prior business philosophy and policy”
The labor bureau local branch in Busan showed evidence of ‘Lack of safety prior business philosophy and policy’ related to HHI’s occupational health and safety operation system in the report.
First of all, they pointed out the reduced budget for safety investment by 61% from 26,304,510,000 won in 2011 to 10,200,760,000 in 2013 despite the unchanged occupational injury rate for last 3 years (2011~2013). According to Occupational Health and Safety Agency, HHI had 143 occupational injury in 2011 and 188 in 2012, 180 in 2013, respectively. It appears the more occupational injuries the less the safety budget it is.
Moreover, HHI was indicated with the same issue during the special supervision ordered in 2014 as they were in 2013. The labor bureau of a local branch in Busan referred this as “Lack of safety prior business philosophy and policy” and also said “The management’s willingness and effort are required to stop repeated violations by facility improvement, reinforce safety awareness and zero tolerance for violations etc.”
They also stated that HHI’s support for the health and safety measures in the yard was insufficient. Considering the shipyard’s nature of simultaneously occurring multiple work process and the complicated mixture of HHI employees and subcontractors in the yard, HHI’s support for subcontractors is necessary but it isn’t followed in reality.
Another point was that only 35% out of 234 HSE personnel had industrial safety related certification. The labor bureau added, “Being able to see risks is the first step of safety by reinforcing training is required.”
“The labor bureau is not influencing HHI at all”
What was the outcome of special supervision by the labor bureau? At the time HHI was pointed out with many issues, they invested 30,000,000,000 won in disaster risk and preventive measures to re-inspect and improve. They also increased the number of safety personnel for subcontractors by 2 times around 200.
Fatalities, however, didn’t stop. 8 more workers were killed after the special supervision and one of them was killed during the supervision period on 28th Apr. He fell into the sea during signaling a transport. It would have been prevented if the safety fence had been installed.
Actually, the labor bureau’s special supervision to HHI wasn’t conducted in only 2014 but every year since 2011 and they did not correct the problems. ‘Violation specifics of special supervision in 2013, for example, repeatedly pointed out uninstalled preventive measures for fall and safety fence. This is the reason why the special supervision is called only “showing off”.
Mr. Chang-min Ha, the director of HHI subcontracting branch explained why special supervisions are not effective “Because those labor bureau inspectors do not understand the shipyard’s situation”. He added, “They should come at any random time to inspect the real working condition and situation but they only look around the areas which HHI have set up specifically”.
Thus, the supervision report cannot put HHI under pressure. Mr. Ha said, “Although it looks like HHI is imposed with legal controls through the special supervision apparently, HHI is not taking any responsibilities in reality because the labor bureau cannot put any pressure on HHI.”
The government which should protect people’s lives, but….
This is why it is insisted that random supervisions should be conducted instead of those ‘showing off’ special supervisions to reduce occupational injuries. However, even this is not easy. Industrial safety inspectors in labor bureau are assigned in different locations and the number is not enough. There are 66 inspectors working in Busan branch, which is supervising HHI.
According to the data Seok-hyun Lee at New Politics Alliance for Democracy party received from the labor bureau in Oct 2014, the ratio per one industrial safety inspector in Busan to workplace is 3,988 and the number of managing workers is 35,614. Overall, all 348 inspectors are taking care of 4,850 workplaces and 42,364 workers per person. Namely, it is impossible to randomly inspect.
Mr. Se-min Park, the health and safety director of Metal Union claimed ‘customized inspection’. He said, “The small number of industrial safety inspectors in labor bureau is scattered in all different locations and this is inefficient. They should be assigned by type of industries, shipbuilding, auto, chemical etc. for instance, and inspect randomly. Then, occupational injuries will decrease but the labor bureau argues it is not their fault, citing manpower, budget etc.”.
In Pursuit of profit above all means is the nature of capitalism in Korea. Containing and supervising the nature of capitalism is the duty of government. We are not talking about the ‘big government’ quoted in post-capitalism. Keeping the life and safety of people is the reason why the government exists. However, it is doubtful if the government is doing their imposed duty.